Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ruter Dominates Inaugural I-35 USMTS Visit

History was made Wednesday night as the United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS) made their first-ever appearance at the fast half-mile speedplant known as the I-35 Speedway in Mason City, Iowa. The highly anticipated show also included the Midwest 305 sprint cars.

The features kicked off with a fifteen lap finale for the Midwest 305 sprint cars. Austin Johnson bolted to the lead from his outside front row start and never looked back. Randy Reinhard passed a couple cars to move into second place, but he was no serious threat to Johnson for the win as Austin Johnson took home the trophy. Randy Reinhard was second and Ryan Voss rounded out the podium finish.

Twenty-five laps would be the distance for the USMTS finale of the night. A couple of area drivers, Dan Bohr and Ryan Ruter, sat on the front row when the green flag dropped. Ruter grabbed the lead as his home-track knowledge would allow him to have a great setup under the car the entire night. A few early cautions slowed the action, but Ruter was able to pull away from the field on every restart. Steve Wetstein and Dan Bohr battled it out for second in the early going before Bohr would suffer a left rear flat tire.

Mark Elliott started fourteenth in his Harris chassis, but he quickly made his way to the front as he found himself in the fourth spot. Behind him Kelly Shryock was also making significant strides to the front as he started inside Elliott in thirteenth and was up to seventh a handful of laps into the race. Nascar start Kenny Wallace would make his presence known as he got by Mark Elliott for third just before a caution came out on lap ten. Wallace used the restart to get by Steve Wetstein for second as he powered up his car on the outside in turns one and two.

Kelly Shryock and Jason Hughes waged a battle for the fifth spot in the closing laps, but Shryock was unable to make the pass. Up front, nobody had anything for Ryan Ruter as he took the win by a full straight away at the checkers. Kenny Wallace came home second, Steve Wetstein third, Mark Elliott fourth, and Jason Hughes rounded out the top five.

Rain earlier in the day as well as the day before made for a tacky track. Horsepower was definitely a necessity last night on the big half-mile track, something the local fans are not used to seeing very often. The sprint cars and the USMTS drew a great crowd, and hopefully promoter Joe Ringsdorf and USMTS promoter Todd Staley can get together and bring the series back again next year.

The USMTS is off Thursday night before traveling down to La Monte and Wheatland, Missouri for a Friday-Saturday doubleheader. After that, they will take a few weeks off and come back to Iowa as they visit the Fayette County Speedway in West Union on July 23rd.

The I-35 Speedway will again host their weekly racing action on Sunday. That night will be the Skip Rose Memorial race. Skip was a vital part of racing in North Iowa. He was always at the race track in some way. I didn't know Skip, but his son Rob races the #123 Sidebitter chassis every week. Hot laps get underway at 6:00 Sunday evening with racing to follow.

- Racing may be a hobby, but it's DEFINITELY addictive!!

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